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Winnie Madikizela Mandela is one of the most misunderstood and intriguingly powerful contemporary female political figures. Her rise and seeming fall from grace, bears the hallmarks of epic tragedy. For the first time, this film pieces together and properly considers her life and contribution to the struggle to bring down Apartheid from the inside, with intimate insight from those who were closest to her and with testimony from the enemies who sought to extinguish her radical capacity to shake up the order of things.


  • Variety
    "There may be no life in South African politics more narratively riveting than that of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Her ex-husband Nelson may have the more grandly heroic arc, having endured 27 years in captivity to bring democracy to his nation, but her parallel story — one that includes triumph, disgrace and exile, the worshipful embrace of one population sector and the moral disgust of another, complete with a still-disputed murder mystery — is the stuff of true cinema."
  • Screen International
    "Lamache’s efforts to unravel not only the tale at hand but also the reasoning behind the many conflicting views surrounding her subject — and the ripples both leave in the country today — are deftly handled."
  • Eye for Film
    "Worth seeing for the sheer force of Winnie's charimsa."
  • Matador Network
    "Pascale Lamche, a French director and true investigator, did her due diligence to vindicate Winnie Mandela in her documentary Winnie."
  • The Guardian
    For decades, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lived in the shadow of her husband, Nelson.
    Winnie, by British filmmaker Pascale Lamche, focuses on the grassroots campaigner in her political heyday. It is one of a number of films emerging in African cinema that seeks to redress a long-held status quo – whether that’s about gender, race or politics.
    For Lamche, who has made a number of films in and about South Africa, the prevailing narrative about the “rainbow nation” has long required that Nelson be the saint, and Winnie, the sinner.
    “Patriarchy operates all over the world”.
    “But what is really astounding in South Africa is that on both sides of the apartheid divide – with the white Afrikaner nationalists and the black nationalists – they agreed on what a woman should be, which is to be a wife and stay at home and toe the line. And of course Winnie never toed the line: she was volatile and uncontrollable, and that was punished.”
    Long prone to cliches regarding gender, sexuality and social politics, African cinema is undergoing a seeming reboot in the way it treats those themes, says Ruiz, pointing to the increasing number of African female voices taking centre stage.
    “I think it’s a historical balance redressing, where now more and more Africans are telling African stories, and more African women are telling African women’s stories. These are stories that need to be told, and up until a few years ago, they weren’t part of the mainstream.”

Festival Participation

  • Sundance Film Festival - 2017
    Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary
  • HotDocs Film Festival - 2017

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

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